My head has not been there in a while. The past months, really the past couple of years have been too good to dwell on what was, what happened and what might have happened. Encounters make me think back.
I went to a wedding and saw the minister that sat with us the morning April 4, 2005. That was the morning of Marty’s surgery to stop the bleeding from her ruptured cerebral aneurysm. That was the morning I began to understand mortality.
That Sunday the minister in question sat with us, first in a small room, then a larger room. She sat with me, with Erin, with Matt, with Sarah, with Wesley as we paced, as we waited anxiously and hopeful for word on Marty after her hours’ long surgery. It was a long, painful, exceedingly frightening wait. It was one of those did she live kind of waits.
At the wedding I talked briefly to the right reverend Fran and thanked her for being with us that day. I didn’t do a very good job of saying thank you and telling her how much her presence meant to me and to my family. I don’t think I explained how much comfort it brought to be connected with our faith at a time when every part of my life, every fiber of my being was shaken and my faith was being pulled from me little by little with every tick of the clock.
It’s taken me years to understand that Fran’s loving and calm presence that day did more than just offer spiritual solace. Her presence that morning connected me to my church and to our larger church. Actually, it was more than that, the connection Fran brought helped me tap into a faith that all too often wavers and all too often is led by my doubts.
Sitting in those rooms, waiting for news, good or bad, I needed something big to hold, Fran brought that. That connection to the church universal has kept me coming back to my faith in spite of my doubts and fears and anger. It is a connection to something larger and more important than me or a single congregation.
Fran came to us that day through Matt and Sarah’s church, but it is my church too because as Presbyterians we are connected. My church is connected to their church which is connected to my parent’s church which is connected to my sister’s church all of which is connected to the faith of the thousands of doubters in the past and the future.
We are a connectional church and that is what my faith needed that day, I needed to feel joined to my church 100 miles away, I needed the faith of my parents and sister who happened to be in Ireland at the time, I needed the faith of all of those who had gone before Marty and I, and I needed the faith of all of those who would come after us.
I am sure Fran has sat with countless people, some in better situations, some in worse. I did not know her, Marty didn’t know her, but she made me comfortable, she gave me comfort. On that day, at that time Fran was a part of my larger family. On that day at that time Fran brought a modicum of peace to me and mine. On that day at that time Fran represented something, for me, that was much larger than her, than me, than Marty, she represented the love and the history our faith.
Our world has changed in the 9 ½ years since that April in 2005. I have changed, my base of knowledge and understanding about our life has been expanded and I think, I think, I better understand myself and my place in our journey.
I now understand how much I need to feel connected to the greater world. I understand today how important it was to me then, on that day. On that day I don’t think I recognized what was going on, that Fran’s presence, for me, brought the power of presence of our faith and congregations.
Thank you Fran, it really meant a lot then, it means even more today.